Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The HQ incident...

I was asked up to White Stuff  Headquarters recently.
Very exciting stuff but also a bit scary.
Its been donkeys years since I went up to London on my own (probably about 25 years!) and I seem to be the worlds worst traveler.
If I dont manage to get myself lost, I'll get a migraine or throw up which in itself creates a viscous circle of worrying that I will.... so I inevitably do.
Well anyway, the journey there was surprisingly straight forward, I had forgotten quite what a fabulous thing the Tube is.Winding, breezy tunnels of gorgeous green, black and cream deco tiles lead you to those clunking screeching, rushing trains and your destination. I wanted to take photos of their colourful retro looking seat fabric but a fear of being clocked as a tourist (instant pickpocket target!) stopped me.

White Stuff HQ is in the Oval area of south east London. It's like entering someone's retro decorated home, not a company headquarters and you are greeted by a bunch of  lovely smiley ladies who treat you like an old friend. Vintage 30s cupboards filled with awards, comfy sofas and old fashioned kiddy rides with a backdrop of whirly 1970s wallpaper makes you feel like you are stepping into one of their clothing catalogues.
I love White Stuff clothes and shop online with them often (always with a discount though!) When I go into their shops the assistants are lovely and dont make you feel awkward or too old or too fat to be in there, It's one of a very few shops I don't mind shopping in and even though they are more expensive than some others, I do feel it's worth it. This, apparently, has made me one of their 'super-shoppers'.... hence the invite.

The day started with me being missed off the list as they hadn't received my email to say I'd be coming. Oops. No problem, a name badge was quickly rustled up. Then the15 of us had a tour of the offices. We met the now infamous, Ivy and Lil stitching away in their little room, there's a 'street' with 3 mocked up shops, all as they would be outside in the real world, with windows displays and  proper doors and signs and there are offices decorated in their quirky style, one themed as a Royal room (vintage royal portraits, red flock wallpaper, swags, velvet and tassels and a gold crest on the wall) a log cabin room (wood wallpaper, huge fake moose head) and the 50s kitchen with not one but three 1950s kitchenette cupboards and a formica table around which to talk business.
All in all a rather fabulous place to work (even your dog is allowed to come to work).

We were there to have our brains picked, eat a fabulous lunch (and afternoon tea) and see the new collections, giving our opinions on things like customer service, fit and quality.
Knowing that I'm prone to migraines and having been up since 5.30am I started on the water straight away.
I think I must have polished off about 4 litres before the queasiness and 'fizzy eye' thing happened.
 Urgh I know those signs all too well. After a rather scrumptious lunch, the queasy thing took hold and I had to be excused to sit in the garden.
 The offices are on the second floor and all face onto a glass walled garden that sits bang in the middle. So there I sat huffing and puffing, fanning my face trying to look jollier than I felt (which was bloody awful) like an over weight, nearly-middle-aged goldfish!
When it rained I snuck back inside, started drinking yet more water and the queasiness became the sweating, face draining sickness I dread.
The loos at white stuff have large portholes where you can see out but (un-beknown to me) no-one can see in.
Projectile vomiting 200 litres of water whilst on your toilet paper covered knees thinking that everyone outside can see you is not a good feeling. Nor is trying to wash the ends of your hair in one of those teeny tiny hand basins.
 Drying your hair in a Dyson air blade is neither a good idea nor a good look!  Dont try it.
Candy floss and sheep's wool come to mind.Thank goodness I had a pony-tail band with me.
 My make-up now looked like that bloke from Kiss.
As you can imagine, by this point all I wanted to do was be transported home by time machine, but alas, alone, bar a handful of strangers and a long way from the big hills I was going to have to rely on my good old British stiff upper lip.
 Keep calm ( sort your face out ) and carry on....
So the day came and went, we were thanked by The Lovely People and given a fabulous goody bag.. a scarf, belt , pretty necklace...vouchers and discount cards..whoopee!
I hopped back on the tube, took my super-strength knock-out pills at Paddington and away we went.

The train journey was slow. A sweaty man smelling badly of  B.O was in my reserved seat and was most irritated to be moved, the lady behind me (well dressed,well spoken older lady, traveling alone) gave me a great running commentary on everything she ate, saw and drank, interspersed with the odd 'F' word.(actually it was more like every other word was the F word)
A posh student gave the whole train a loud phone commentary on his part in the Olympics, much to the groans of the passengers. I think a hundred hushed voices said 'it was the Mary Rose' when he described to 'mummy', Annie Lennox riding Noah's Ark.
It makes me laugh how no-one would ever dare to say can you please be quiet. Oh no, us British, we just tut and mutter. Sweary lady had a field day when posh teenager started up.

The train finally broke down at Worcester, having crawled home at a snails pace, It was dark and I'd missed my train link to Malvern. Urgh.
After some bribery I managed to persuade a friend of stinky boys to be my taxi.
 I got home at last. Phewwwwww
As you can imagine, I didn't take any photos. The day ended up being quite surreal in the end. Almost like a Mr.Bean sketch!

I think This little video will show you how lovely the people there are and give you a sneaky peek into the world that is......... White Stuff.

I'm off for a lie down!..... xx


  1. Sorry that your migraine spoiled an otherwise exciting day ... Hope you're better now and enjoy your goodies! Claire xxx

  2. I feel for you as I suffer from migraines too.I vowed I would never travel on the tube again after seeing the prog 'The Tube' on TV recently.
    What an ordeal you had,I bet you were glad to be home(and safe)again.The White Stuff sounds like a lovely place to work,and I'm very impressed that you can bring your dog in with you! Bellaboo XXX

    1. EEK..maybe it's a good job I didn't see that program! I dont think my dogs would be quite as well behaved as gorgeous George the Bulldog and his pals though!

  3. How wonderful to be invited to such a great day. So sorry you didn't feel well, migraines are rotten. We had a similar numpty on a recent train journey. He liked the sound of his own, very loud, voice but, as you said, us British just say and tutted and didn't actually tell him to shut the heck up :o) x

  4. Crikey Sairer, what a day. I know what you mean about worrying about travelling and sickness, the worry inevitably makes you feel awful before you even start. I'm so with you on the public transport thing, thought my main bugbear (other than people sitting in reserved seats) is the "quiet" coach where nobody is actually quiet! I am however, one of those people who does speak up and point out people are not to use mobile phones etc!

    If you are ever in South London again, you are more than welcome to head over here and get your head down. Enjoy the goodies and the vouchers!

    Hen xxx

    1. ahh thanks Hen xx good on you for telling them off..I'm just nosy and listen in! lol! They had an 'entertainment' coach on this train which amazed me, I've no idea what the 'entertainment' was though! The mind boggles!

  5. Oh, poor you, migraine is horrid - especially the fizzy eye and throwing up sort. I used to get it, like you when I needed to do something different, especially if it involved getting up very early. I don't know why but I seem to have grown out of it - my life's still full of stressful situations but it's gone with age (got to be some consolations!). The White Stuff HQ sounds wonderful, but getting stuck in Worcs when you need to be in Malvern is no joke - I know it happened to me too!

    1. Funnily enough Jee,I keep being told I'll grow out of them..I cant wait for that day to come!!!
      I left a good job in Birmingham because of the pants unreliable train service to and from Malvern.Sooo frustrating!

  6. How fantastic to be invited there. They do some lovely stuff, but it is out of my budget. Such a shame you were ill though.

  7. Oh wow, it sounds amazing! I love White Stuff, could spend a FORTUNE in there. If I had a fortune. So sorry that you were so poorly though, it sounds awful. I bet you were very pleased to get home!

  8. Oh you poor thing you should stick to your 30 min rule as
    per gorgeous post above on lovely day out
    love your blog always makes me smile


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